Sunday, September 23

Kicking off movie week--TIFF rocks!

This week's theme is movies, and what better way to kick it off than by giving you the inside dope on the Toronto International Film Festival, which wrapped up just last week?

Okay, well not exactly inside dope. I don't get invited to any of the parties, don't rub elbows with Brad or George or Cate. But I always take in at least one TIFF movie, be it a small foreign film that doesn't have a hope in hell of getting North American distribution, or a gala presentation of a big Hollywood movie that all the stars are going to be present for and the director is going to introduce and talk about. (Sometimes they even do q-and-a sessions when the movie's over!)

Aside from taking in the movies, I and my star-struck family take care to walk around Yorkville, where the action is, at least a couple of times during Festival, on the off chance that we'll see an A-lister shopping or dining. (You end up navigating through hordes of other people out to see people, and all you hear is, "Have you seen anybody?" or "You just missed Dustin Hoffman!" or--in front of the Four Seasons--"Cate's limo's supposed to leave any second!") We also pay regular trips to the Bay-Bloor Indigo bookstore, and sneak my books to the table from the shelf, in the hope that they'll catch the eye of some visiting Hollywood producer! But mostly, it's just a great time to people watch, what with all those aspiring stars (who, unlike the A-listers, make sure they're highly visible) and wealthy investors tromping around. And I did catch Elizabeth Shue shopping last year!

So, the movies. This year we were all so busy, we didn't have time to do any advance planning/ordering of tickets. But we did head over to Yorkville to do our requisite walk late one Saturday afternoon, and afterward, just for the heck of it, we decided to check out the gala rush lines. It was about 5:00, and the line for the 6:00 gala presentation of Elizabeth: The Golden Age was around the block. We figured there was no way all those people were going to get rush seats, so we became the first in line for the 9:00 gala presentation of The Jane Austen Book Club. The advantage of being one of the first few people in line for a gala is that you usually get in for free. People who can't go always come down and give away their tickets. And it's actually really fun to wait in line for so long. You end up chatting about movies/stars with the other people in line, and Pizza Pizza always give out free slices! (This time, we also got some free CDs and tons of coupons.) And we saw Kelly Rowan (Mrs. Cohen on The O.C.!) rush past us on her way in to Elizabeth, which made my teenaged daughter very happy! (We also heard the crazy screaming when Cate and Clive pulled up, but our line was around the corner from the red carpet, so we didn't see them--boo!)

So yeah, we ended up getting free tickets--after waiting in line for only about a half hour! Having already eaten (our free pizza), we walked around for a while, got some coffee, and came back to the theatre (Roy Thomson Hall, actually) just before the show. Very civilized! The film was directed by Robin Swicord, previously a screenwriter, and she was soooo lovely and gracious when she introduced the movie. She made it for the budget price of six million dollars, and she still managed to get Jimmy Smits, Kathy Baker, Hugh Dancy, Maggie Grace, Amy Brenneman and Maria Bello on board! All of them were there, and all of them were lovely, too. (Well, Maggie wore this very unfortunate blue prom dress type thing, but she's new to the red carpet. She'll learn!) Amy was best-dressed, in a chic black knee-length bustier dress, and Hugh was most fun: he wore jeans, a white blazer, and bright white sneakers!

The movie itself was wonderful. An excellent adaptation of Karen J. Fowler's novel, about a group that forms to read and discuss all six of Jane Austen's novels, whose own lives mirror those of Austen's characters. The club members' own experiences inform their reactions to the novels, and it's fascinating to see how art and real life intersect! This is a definite must-see for all Austen fans (and chick lit writers). The actors were uniformly wonderful, although Emily Blunt, playing a repressed teacher, may have gone slightly overboard. But you can't not love Emily, and this may have been a script problem. The character is somewhat of a stereotype as written. Emily wasn't at the gala, btw. I'd hoped to see her and her fiance, Michael Buble. (Last year when I saw the gala of For Your Consideration, I caught a glimpse of Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Guest's wife, in the audience, munching on popcorn!)

So the stars have left and the galas are all over. The magic fairy dust that's sprinkled over our city for ten days every year has lifted. I lurve TIFF. One day I hope to be able to take the week off to see movies, as my friend Maureen McGowan does, but in the meantime, I can only look forward to next year!

Happy movie-going!



Wendy Toliver said...

I've never been to TIFF but your post makes me want to go sometime! I've been to the LA Film Festival, Sundance and the Boulder Film Fest. I think they're just so much fun, and how cool to see some of the movies at a later date on the "Bigger Screen."

Alyson Noel said...

You made that sound like so much fun--now I must go to a film festival! Newport Beach has one, as does Palm Springs...hmmm...

But the best celebrity spotting ever--was when I worked as a flight attendant-- you learn real quick who's naughty and who's nice!

Sara Hantz said...

WOW, Bev! I'm so envious. I'd LOVE to go to TIFF!! Maybe I'll pay a visit one day. I've always wanted to visit Canada!

greeneyedwriter said...

Hi! Would you like to trade links? Thanks!


bevrosenbaum said...

Yeah, Alyson and Sara, you really have to get to a fest! Wendy, it's so cool you've been to those three! I've heard TIFF is comparitively public-friendly (easy for anybody to get tickets, etc.); how do the others stack up in that department?

Wendy Toliver said...

Sundance is pretty spread out, a few in Sun Valley Idaho, most in Park City, some in Salt Lake City, and a few in Ogden. (That's to my knowledge so there might be more.) The place for celeb sightings and my favorite "film fest atmosphere" is Park City, and it's crazy fun. If you're there for the films and not so much for the celebs, Ogden and SLC are great bets because I've never had trouble getting tickets and like you mentioned, sometimes the film teams do Q and A sessions afterwards, which is really cool. I hear volunteering for Sundance is a blast.

The LA Film Fest is also a wonderful one. My cousin is the director and he always does an amazing job. I saw the most celebs there, but maybe it's because they don't have to travel as far? My favorite celeb sighting, the one that left me speechless beyond a meek "hi," was Gwen and Gavin.

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